Published November 04. 2013 4:00AM Updated November 07. 2013 12:14AM
New London - Duane Maranda, football guy. Like most of his adult life. He's coached hundreds and hundreds of kids who have worn the maroon at East Lyme, the blue of Bacon Academy, the blue of UConn as a graduate assistant under Randy Edsall and the red of St. Bernard.
But it's never been like this. Impossible. Because he'd never had the chance to coach his son, not like this, not in this place.
Maranda is the coach now at the region's most hallowed program, New London High School. His son, Danny, is the starting quarterback.
"I never saw myself wearing green and gold," Danny Maranda was saying one day last week, alluding to a childhood in Colchester, assuming one day he'd play for Bacon Academy. "This experience is awesome. A whole different level of football. I love it."
Duane Maranda succeeded Jeff Larson in Whalerville after Larson left two summers ago. The Whalers went 7-3 last season. They're 5-2 now, winners of four straight, heading into their biggest game of the season, Friday night against No. 4 Middletown at Cannamela Field.
Here's how it's different: It wouldn't just be a huge victory for Maranda's team. It would be a victory with the coach watching his son help engineer it.
"It's tough to put into words. I've been waiting a long time to coach him," Duane Maranda said. "He's been a football player since he was five. He's always been there, always been around. I'm having a great time. I'm very proud of him. I know how hard he's worked.
"But I try to disconnect myself from being a father to him on the field," he said. "He's got a great coach in (New London assistant) Kent Reyes on the field and I try to leave the majority of coaching up to him. I try to coach through Kent if I have to say something."
Maranda knows how it works. There aren't many more sensitive issues within team sports than perceived favoritism involving the coach and his (or her) kid.
"Danny's handled it well. He's always been the coach's kid," Maranda said. "Even as a youth football player, when he did well, there was always that group of people who would say, 'well, he's the coach's kid.' He never did well because of his hard work. If he did badly, he shouldn't be there because he's the coach's kid."
Turns out it was a dilemma for which Maranda sought counsel from Steve Fillipone, the coach at Hand, one of the greats in state history.
"He had just finished coaching his son," Maranda said. "He said that (Danny's) got to understand he has to be head and shoulders above the guy he's competing with. If he's not, the other guy's going to get the nod. If not, it's going to be looked at as favoritism. I had the conversation with Danny. He's got to outwork whoever he's competing with and leave no doubt."
His son has left no doubt this season, throwing for 1,170 yards and 17 touchdowns already. Which makes for more pleasant rides home, if nothing else.
"I don't yell at home. Home revolves around mom. What mom says goes," Duane Maranda said. "I guess I have more patience at home than I do on the field. We have a nice 20-25 minute ride home at night. That's a blessing. By the time we get home, we're talking about things that aren't football."